App of the Week: Curiosity (Android, iOS)
Peter Molyneux is well known in the gaming world for two things – creating well loved video games like Fable and Black & White – and for overhyping those games, leaving everyone slightly disappointed when the game actually makes it to retail. This week, Molyneux’s first project since leaving Lionhead Studios and long-time publishers Microsoft has been released.
It’s called Curiosity, and it’s really really weird. The basic premise is the deconstruction of a massive cube. Inside the cube is a ‘life-changing’ secret – whomever gets to the center of the cube first gets it. To get there, players on iOS and Android cooperate to remove over 60 billion ‘cubelets’ by tapping on them individually. You can’t just drill straight down either – you need to remove all cubelets from one layer before you can move onto the next.
Of course, it’s not just the destination that is rewarded. For each cubelet you remove, you get a coin. These coins can be used to buy bombs, upgraded chisels and stats. Later on, the game will also feature real-money purchases, including an $80,000 Diamond Chisel that will give the wielder an excellent chance at getting inside the box if they’re wielding it at the right time.
Already, hundreds of thousands of people are taking part by downloading the free app and tapping away, with the first black layer revealing a green layer underneath – the first steps down a long road, no doubt.
So far a number of interesting complications have occurred – perhaps the most trying has been that the Curiosity servers have been absolutely hammered by people trying to play the game, which made it a bit hit or miss to get inside.
More interestingly, while some people are just getting down to work on removing all the cubelets in a nice and ordered fashion, many more are using the differing colours between layers to write messages and draw pictures. The constantly changing and evolving canvas, where evocative pixellated poems do battle with crude slurs, is a fascinating environment to observe. There’s even a website called OnTheCube that details some of the most interesting player-created snapshots.
I’d definitely recommend taking part – it’s a bit mindlessly dull as a game, but as a social experiment into the nature of curiosity and the psychology of monetization it’s amazing. You won’t forget it – at least, not until Molyneux’s studio 22Cans releases the 21 other experiments that they’ve said they’re working on too.